Latos, Reds blank Cubs

Jack McCarthy, The Sports Xchange

CHICAGO -- Mat Latos provided the Cincinnati Reds with the pitching outing they desired Monday.

The right-hander threw eight strong innings, and Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth as the Reds opened a three-game series with a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

"Our bullpen was tired, coming off an extra-inning game yesterday, and Latos, he gave us what we needed," Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said. "Then we turned it over the Chapman, and he closed the door."

Latos (12-3) worked his second-longest start of the season. He limited the Cubs to six hits and a hit batter, striking out nine without issuing a walk.

The Reds got the only runs they needed in the seventh inning when Brandon Phillips broke a scoreless tie with a two-run home run.

Phillips lofted an 0-2 pitch to left off Cubs starter Travis Wood for his 15th homer of the year, scoring Todd Frazier. That accounted for the only runs in a briskly played pitchers' duel that lasted 2 hours, 27 minutes.

"I was ahead in the count and I missed with a pitch and came in right where (Phillips) was apparently looking and wanting it," Wood said. "I saw early on how on his game Latos was tonight. From pitch one, he was hitting every spot, hitting the pitches."

Latos (12-3) held the Cubs hitless until the fifth inning en route to his second consecutive shutout performance. He fired 7 1/3 scoreless innings in an Aug. 6 win over the Oakland A's.

"Tonight I had really good stuff," Latos said. "I was able to rely on the fastball and the slider ... I was able to throw the slider for strikes, (a) swing-and-miss pitch when I needed to and bury it when I needed to.

"(Cather Devin) Mesoraco called a good game today. Basically, wherever the mitt was, I was able to make my pitches."

In the ninth, Chapman threw 14 pitches while recording his 28th save.

Wood (7-9) allowed two runs on four hits in eight innings. He fanned five and walked one.

A potential sixth inning Cubs rally was shut down on the basepaths when Junior Lake tried to reach third following Anthony Rizzo's one-out single to center. Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo fired to third baseman Frazier for the tag.

The Cubs got their first hits off Latos in the fifth. Donnie Murphy singled with two outs and reached third on Darwin Barney's lopping hit to right. However, Wood popped out to left to end the threat.

"He was pounding the strike zone," Barney said. "He was down with his slider early and got some swings, but (throwing just) 35 pitches through three is usually not a good number offensively for us."

The shutout loss was the Cubs' third straight at home, matching an ignominious record dating back Aug. 20-21, 1924, that included a doubleheader sweep by the Boston Braves and a single loss to the Brooklyn Robins.

NOTES: The Reds reinstated LF Ryan Ludwick from the 60-day disabled list prior to the game. He had been sidelined since sustaining a torn labrum in his right shoulder on Opening Day. To make room, the Reds optioned OF Derrick Robinson to Triple-A Louisville. Ludwick started Monday and went 0-for-3. ... The Reds send RHP Homer Bailey (7-10 3.73 ERA) against Cubs RHP Jeff Samardzija (6-11, 4.23 ERA) in Tuesday's middle game of the series. ... OF Darnell McDonald made his Cubs debut Sunday, becoming the 50th player to appear the Chicago season. That's three away from the team record established in 2012. ... Entering Monday, Lake had 32 hits in his first 24 career games since his July 19 debut. It was the third-most hits by an active player in his initial 24 games, trailing only Kansas City 1B Eric Hosmer and Detroit DH Victor Martinez (33 each). ... Monday's game was the third in a stretch of 20 consecutive games for the Reds. They don't have a scheduled day off until Aug. 29.